Govt launches national planning practice guidance as an online resource

According to a press release by the Department for Communities and Local Government, Planning Minister Nick Boles has announced the launch of the national planning practice guidance as a new online resource to give simplicity to the planning system and bring about better community involvement. The user friendly format will make planning guidance more accessible and will make it easier to keep up to date.

The existing technical guidance, described as often complex and repetitive, is catalogued in 230 separate documents and at 7,000 pages is almost impossible for residents and businesses to use effectively.

Following an external review, ministers have proposed a new streamlined planning practice that will provide the support for growth and creation of jobs and homes that the country needs. It will also provide clearer protections for natural and historic environment by giving power back to communities who are generally best placed to make local decisions.

The website is currently in Beta for testing and comment and none of the current planning practice guidance will be cancelled until the final online guidance is in place and live later in the autumn.

The new and easy to use web pages of advice set out guidance on a range of issues including:

  • a new affordability test for determining how many homes should be built
  • opening up planning appeal hearings to be filmed
  • discouraging councils from introducing a new parking tax on people’s driveways and parking spaces
  • encourage more town centre parking spaces and end aggressive ‘anti-car’ traffic calming measures like speed bumps
  • housing for older people – councils should build more bungalows and plan positively for an ageing population
  • new neighbourhood planning guidance to help more communities start their own plans
  • new local green space guidance to help councils and local communities to plan for open space and protect local green spaces which are special to them

According to Boles: “Planning shouldn’t just be the preserve of technocrats, lawyers and council officers. Yet up to now even the experts have struggled to plough through all the background documents and find the right advice. To be effective our planning system needs to be supported by practical guidance that anyone can consult and follow.

Having stripped away outdated advice, our new user friendly website brings together a simplified set of clear, concise guidance and publishes it altogether in one place. This will make the planning system much easier to navigate for everyone involved.”

The launch follows an external review that looked into streamlining some 7,000 pages of practice guidance which explains statutory provisions, planning and the planning system. A vast amount of the material included very outdated documents – some going back to the 1960s – which have been superseded.

None of the current planning practice guidance will be cancelled until the final online guidance is in place and live. There will now be a 6 week window where the new guidance is open for informal comment.

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